I glance to my left and see down a street that leads straight into the city. The train is a straight-shot to downtown. It runs just outside of my window, If I stand on my couch, lean forward, and look up, I see the lights of the Willis Tower. If I step outside my window and jump to the left, I’d lean against the wall that runs along the outside of the train.
The moon is bright here. I was afraid I would lose the night when I moved into the city.
If I go on my rooftop late, past 11, the city starts to sleep. And as the city sleeps, the stars peek out from their low-light cover and glow, the way they always do. But when I see the stars, I can’t help but notice those lights in the skyscrapers still illuminating the night, and I can’t help but wonder if it was a forgotten switch, or if someone at home is waiting for the someone in that room.
When I think about missing someone, I think about the way I feel on the train, staring across the car at everyone with headphones in, wondering what this place looked like fifteen years earlier and laugh when I think about trading in cell phones for CD players.
And on the days I’m out in the suburbs, I think about the traffic all headed in the same direction, our paths crossing this way only once in the scheme of forever.
I like the city, because it reminds me of how small I am.
But as I lay on my couch tonight, eating leftover takeout with a lamp on, wearing my pajamas and drinking wine out of a coffee mug, I’m overwhelmed — in a quiet way– that I am surrounded by people, but at the same time, very much alone.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve caught myself glancing toward the left hand of the guys I pass that seem to be around my age (discounting the fact that they may have a girlfriend, or are engaged, or co-habitating with whoever they happen to live with, or are just plain happy single). Side note: I deleted that last sentence about 20 times, and knew it was my pride, so I typed it out and left it there this time.
I glance, because I don’t want to be the only one looking for someone. I glance to fuel my my pride.
In the same place where the city reminds me of how small I am, the city skews the smallness to make it seem as though I’m the only one.
I want to let that pride go. I curl up closer to the pillow on my couch and spin the copper-gold ring I wear on my right hand, staring through the pane of glass toward the late-night dog walkers and the passing trains that chase tracks outside my window.
I feel the Holy Spirit’s presence move outside on the street down below, then leap into my apartment, right next to me.
And I hear a voice that’s strong like thunder, quiet like rain, whisper into my soul: “you’re almost there, keep going.”
The voice’s words are out of context for my present thoughts, but the words bring the peace I was seeking. Maybe what I was looking for was not an answer, but a hush to remind me I’m doing okay.
The noise of the train stops. My TV’s screen stands motionless as the world around me stills, eerily, into slow motion.
I know this time, that I don’t know. I do know that in my worries now, in my desperate heart, the one that whimpers that it hates to be alone, that at the root of all things, it isn’t. The wake of burnout, late dinners and coming home to an empty apartment with no one (except your mom via a phone call… S/O to mom) to talk through your day with can feel lonely.
There are days that we will keep hidden to ourselves. There is sleep to be had, and books to be read, and dishes to be washed by a girl who knows there’s a God who’s seen her in this place, and the same God who’s seen her through this place.
This moment will be a glimpse in time. A sweet memory in the day that waits for me in the future. I strip off my pride, and put on a cloak of humility. I’ll stop my desperate heart, and trust my faithful soul. I’ll stop the rush of my mind, and rest in the depths of the rivers that soothe and wash my weary veins.
I will watch the trains as they pass me by, and I will know the lights that glow late at night are the lanterns of the promises to come. I will take joy, and leave shame. I will take courage, and not terror. I will take faith, and not despair.
And I know those lights will not go out.